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DIFFDIFF Journal 2017The Birth of Cinema with the Lumiere brothers
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The Birth of Cinema with the Lumiere brothers
Fri Dec 9, 2016
By: Kerry Baggott
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There’s something so incredibly soothing about watching the movies that make up the ‘Lumiere! Inventing Cinema’ exhibition.
Perhaps it’s because the films are silent – meaning you focus solely on the moving pictures themselves?
Perhaps it’s because they’re a window into a bygone era – a fleeting, rare glimpse into a world of black and white in the late 19th century?
Or perhaps it’s because you simply feel privileged being given the opportunity to watch some of the very first films ever made.
In a film festival that’s showcasing over 150 movies, including 57 world and international premieres, it’s seems poignant that we also celebrate the birth of cinema to appreciate the very long way the world of cinematography has come.
The compilation of 98 movies was shot by brothers, Louis and Auguste Lumiere between 1895 and 1905. Each short movie – which can last just a few seconds – has been lovingly preserved and restored, so today they look beautifully sharp and can be shown in 4K.
“I love the fact that these are among the first movies ever made, yet they have been restored using the very latest modern technology,” says Thierry Fremaux, the General Director of the Cannes Film Festival and the Institut Lumiere in Lyon, who provides the commentary during the session (in a fittingly soothing French accent).
The films are a fascinating insight into the fashion, the society, family dynamics and way of life back in the late 1800’s. Look at the bonnets, the old-fashioned pushchairs, the horse and carriages, the trams?
See how, as directors of their own movies, the Lumiere brothers were learning the skills of film making – the staging, the angles, the lighting. Watch as the actors tried desperately to subdue their inclination to look at the camera and how they, at times, could overplay their role.
These are treasured moments – shown beautifully. Bizarrely, it provides an hour and a half of your time to focus on the very present moment, looking back more than 120 years ago Whether a film fan or not, this is a very special exhibition.

Kerry Baggott
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